AURORA —Aurora Central senior forward Jake McVey can remember scoring twice in a game over his long soccer career.
But never a hat-trick.
The Chargers, as it turned out, ended up needing every one of the goals in McVey’s first hat-trick to hold off a pesky Hinckley-Big Rock squad and earn a 3-2 triumph in Tuesday night’s nonconference game.
The victory is Aurora Central’s fourth in its first five games. That’s already quite an improvement in the “W” column compared to last year when the Chargers won seven games the entire season.
McVey, the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match, said afterward he had not been 100 percent the past few days going into Tuesday’s contest.
“Over the weekend, we played in the IMSA (Illinois Math and Science Academy) tournament, and I tweaked my knee a little bit,” he said. “I was out of practice yesterday (Monday) and came back feeling really good and scored two goals right off the bat and came back in the second half and scored a third one.”
McVey’s first score occurred in the 11th minute on a header off an assist from freshman midfielder Christopher Incandela. Sophomore midfielder Neil Meyer then set up McVey on a cross in the 32nd minute for another and a 2-0 Chargers lead.
“Obviously in today’s game, he shined,” said Aurora Central coach Enrique Anaya. “It was his night, finishing off three and making sure he was stepping up. Last year, he only had two goals and now he has five.”
“I love this team,” McVey said. “We’re young; this is my last year, but all the incoming freshmen, they’re great. Alan Acosta (freshman midfielder), he’s a huge help giving assists every game and then we’ve got (freshman midfielder) Diego (Leon) and (freshman defender) Omar (Flores) so I’m really excited for this season. There’s a lot of good, new, young players, and I think we’re a lot better this
Although forward Matthew VanDeman didn’t score vs. Hinckley-Big Rock, the Chargers’ sophomore has been a scoring machine so far. He netted seven goals in Aurora Central’s first four games.
“I’m smaller compared to all the juniors and seniors on the field, but my technical ability just to get around a player and get a shot off is what’s helped me,” VanDeman said of his fast start.
The Chargers’ roster is dominated by underclassmen — nine freshmen and six sophomores.
“Our future does look very bright,” Anaya said.
But the focus, of course, is on the present, and Anaya said he liked the way his club moved the ball Tuesday night.
“This game, in particular from the previous ones, our touches were a lot better,” Anaya said. “We definitely moved the ball. The midfield was definitely controlling the ball, being able to spread it out. Our defensive backs pretty much spread out the field and were able to control it. The touches, passing, we were moving, and that’s what we’ve been working on.”
Hinckley-Big Rock, winless in its first five matches of 2023, made things interesting during the second half. Senior midfielder Tyler Smith cut the Chargers’ lead to 2-1 with a goal off a turnover in the 43rd minute.
“With the teams in our conference, I think this is a good visual of what we can work on toward our conference, because they’re a bigger school and a faster school,” Smith said referring to Aurora Central.
According to IHSA figures, Aurora Central has an enrollment of 483 students; Hinckley-Big Rock has 206.
Royals’ goalkeeper Alex Casanas stopped Aurora Central senior midfielder Joshua Hernandez on a point-blank shot in the 47th minute to keep the game close.
However, McVey completed his hat-trick in the 57th minute, tapping in a shot off a free kick by sophomore defender Connor Dineen for a 3-1 lead.
Hinckley-Big Rock senior forward Danny McNamee made it 3-2 after scoring on a long shot in the 64th minute, but the Royals couldn’t find the equalizer.
“It was a well-fought game. We had a lot of hustle,” Smith said. “They’re good. They passed it all over the place, and we were stabbing a lot in the first half. That doesn’t work with faster teams.
“I thought we got it (the ball) off the foot a lot quicker. We got a lot more movement, a lot more spacing. I think it (the spacing) was better, even though it was bad at times. And that’s kind of where we broke down, and I think that’s kind of how it ended up 3-2. But I think if we just work on that spacing, we’re good to go.”
Hinckley-Big Rock opened play in the Little 10 Conference on Wednesday afternoon, hosting DePue. Scott Bastian is in his first year as the Royals coach and said the match with the Chargers was “our best effort” of the season so far. He said likes his team’s attitude and work ethic.
Bastian said the team shows up at practice 15 minutes before it’s scheduled to start and stays after practice officially ends.
“They come to work at practice; they come to work in the game,” Bastian said.
“They’re not down at all. I think they’re happy with what we’re doing. Sooner or later, we’ll get it (a victory).
“We’re just working on communication,” added Bastian, who, prior to taking over as Royals coach, had coached soccer at many levels in the Hinckley-Big Rock area. “That’s a big thing I believe in. I coached these boys in middle school and high school. I believe in the communication; that’s the key.”
Aurora Central has two nonconference games on tap — at Plano on Thursday and Indian Creek on Saturday — before they begin play in a new conference: the Chicago Catholic League White Division.
The Chargers, who had been playing in the Metro Suburban Conference Red Division, will face Mt. Carmel in a cross-over match Sept. 5 in Chicago.
Anaya said he is looking forward to the Chargers new conference.
“It’s a big leap,” he said. “We’re used to facing Wheaton Academy, St. Francis (which also joins the White Division). We usually play Montini all the time so we’re used to that, but the conference is a step up. We definitely have to move forward with our game play.
“Last year, losing nine seniors (to graduation), I was a little iffy, but this year with the freshmen that have come in, I think we can definitely hold our own. The way that things are looking forward, I’m pretty confident we can do it.”
GK – Alex Casanas
D – Jacob Orin
D – Luke Badal
D – Austin Roop
D – Sawyer Smith
MF – Tyler Smith
MF – Michael Murphy
MF – Josh Badal
MF – Daniel Hutchinson
F – Landon Roop
F – Danny McNamee
GK – Miguel Vasquez
D – Omar Flores
D – Connor Dineen
MF – Diego Zarate
MF – Alan Acosta
MF – Christopher Incandela
MF – Adolpho Viveros
MF – Joshua Hernandez
F – Matthew Vandeman
F – Jake McVey
F – Gabriel Bouyett
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Jake McVey, sr., F, Aurora Central
Aurora Central – Jake McVey (Christopher Incandela), 11’
Aurora Central – Jake McVey (Neil Mayer), 32’
Hinckley-Big Rock – Tyler Smith (unassisted), 43’
Aurora Central – Jake McVey (Connor Dineen), 57’
Hinckley-Big Rock – Danny McNamee (Jamie Morfin), 64’